In January of 2022, Thailand became the first Asian country to decriminalise cannabis. In turn, the substance was officially removed from the government’s illicit drug list. Thailand’s recent legislature brings the legalisation of marijuana for all purposes one step closer. Unfortunately, Thailand is not quite ready for complete legalisation yet. With the 2022 act, there is a major catch. The amount of THC allowed legally will not get one high.
THC vs CBD
What is THC? Tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive substance in the cannabis plant that alters one’s mental state or produces a “high”. The cannabis plant is divided into two core components: THC and CBD. When one uses the term “marijuana” in Thailand this refers to more THC-based products. CBD will help one be more relaxed but does not produce a “high.” To differentiate the two components, CBD is often referred to as a “hemp” product.
With CBD products, Thailand’s regulations are far more accepting. CBD is not overly popular in the country yet but is completely legal for all purposes. Most use CBD for medical reasons though. Common reasons for CBD use include post-traumatic disorder, chronic pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, sleep disorder, and migraines.
Thailand Initial Decriminalsation 2019 and 2020
According to Thaiger, Thailand first decriminalized cannabis/marijuana for strictly medical purposes in 2019. Under the Narcotics Bill 2020 updates, a majority of components of the cannabis plant were removed from the “Category 5” Narcotics list. Plant seeds and buds, which are commonly used for recreation, remained on the list until the 2022 legislature.
The seeds and buds that are officially legal now must be under 0.2% THC. A cannabis product with 0.2% or higher THC is still deemed illegal unless one gets the product approved by the Thailand Food and Drug Administration. Without legal registration, one can receive punishment if found with a high THC product.
The 2022 legislature made regulations a bit more relaxed so that individuals can personally grow cannabis for medical reasons. It is imperative that one registers his or her home grown marijuana with the Thailand government and seeks permission to grow the substance. Anutin Charvnikul, Thailand’s Public Health Minister, has only advocated marijuana use for medical purposes alone. He is skeptical and concerned about recreational use and wants to ensure there is a protocol in place to discourage this type of usage.
Under the 2022 decriminalisation of cannabis, individuals with possession of marijuana may still serve a long jail sentence and be forced to pay expensive fines. According to Pacific Prime Thailand, the decriminalisation of cannabis simply means that components of the plant can now be more commonly used for “medical and scientific purposes”.
Consequently, the answer to the question at hand is complicated. Yes, cannabis is officially decriminalised, but the possession of recreational high THC content marijuana is still very much an illegal activity. Most cannabis products widely available are CBD-based. Marijuana or THC- based products are to be strictly used for medical purposes only. Recreational use of marijuana is far from becoming legal in Thailand, but the country is making large steps in such direction.